EghtesadOnline: Rail networks of Iran and Afghanistan will be connected by March 2018 as part of the Khwaf-Herat route, according to an official with the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways.
“The railroad has so far reached the border [from the Iranian side], but its extension on the Afghan soil will be completed by the end of the next Iranian year (March 20, 2018),” Hossein Ashouri was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
When completed, the railroad will link the Iranian city of Khwaf in the northeastern Khorasan Razavi Province to Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city. The first section of the route, from Khwaf to the mine-rich city of Sangan, became operational early September. The second section extends to the border city of Shamtigh in Afghanistan.
The other two sections are in the Afghan territory covering 114 km from Shamtigh to Herat. The 62-km section 3, connecting Shamtigh to Ghurian, is being built by Iran, according to Financial Tribune.
Ashouri said the trackbed is currently being prepared for the third section.
The corridor in its entirety, from Herat to Khwaf, will connect Iranian mineral plants to those of Afghanistan, while also connecting Afghan deposits to the international waters in the south of Iran.
This will be Afghanistan’s first railroad link to Iran and the country’s only link to the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.
Upon completion, the railroad will be used for transportation of both passengers and cargo. However, exploiting its cargo capabilities is a priority for both governments, according to Reza Ahmadi with Iran’s Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.
Ahmadi believes the railroad will have the capacity of transporting 27 million tons of cargo a year.